Episode 75

Social Presence: Commanding Attention

with Jeanine Turner, Ph.D.

August 4, 2022

Jeanine Turner, Ph.D.
Professor in the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program, Georgetown University

Professor Jeanine Turner is a Professor in the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program and holds an Affiliate Professor appointment in the McDonough School of Business. Over the past twenty years at Georgetown, her research has explored the use of communication technologies by individuals and organizations. Specific examples of this research include the study of instant messaging and multicommunicating, computer-mediated bulletin boards as a form of social support, and the implementation of telemedicine technology as a means of augmenting the delivery of health care services. She is currently developing a theory of social presence that considers the interruptive nature of smartphone use. In addition to her work with graduate students in the CCT program, she also teaches courses in the McDonough School of Business to graduate students, executives, and undergraduates. Some of the organizations she has worked with include: the National Association of Broadcasters, Verizon, the World Bank, the District of Columbia Public Schools, Texas Instruments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Edward Jones, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sprint, Rolls Royce, the Pentagon, and the Staff of the U.S. Senate. Professor Turner has published over 50 articles and book chapters and presented her work nationally and internationally. She loves teaching students and discovering the complexities of communication.

What can I do the influences audience? How can I make sure my message is relevant? So that's what leaders need to be thinking about.



[00:01:22] Gary Bisbee, Ph.D.: Well, good morning, Jeanine. And welcome.

[00:01:25] Jeanine Turner, Ph.D.: Good morning. I’m excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on.

[00:01:29] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, we’re pleased to have you at this microphone. As you know, this show is about leadership. And you’re an expert at communications, which is a key aspect of leadership and one that we all need to understand better and continuously work on. To that end, why don’t we get to know you a little bit better and kind of delve into this expertise and communications. So why don’t we kick off with what was life like growing up for you, Jeanine?

[00:01:56] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Well, so I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m in the middle of three girls, so a lot of talking in our family. So when I think about leadership, I, because I was in the middle I guess I was more of an observer and a follower, not so much the leader. My younger sister was kind of led in certain ways and my older sister in other ways. So I’d never really think of myself as a leader but more of a follower. But then when there’s been a lot of research now on servant leadership, I really identify with that about how you can connect with people and kind of almost lead as a partner.

[00:02:32] Dr. Gary Bisbee: What about your parents? Did you adopt any of your leadership style from your parents, do you think?

[00:02:39] Dr. Jeanine Turner: That’s a great question. My dad’s kind of quiet, so he’s not a big talker. My mom’s a really big talker. I’m probably more a talker like my mom. But he was very thoughtful and would be thinking, like, when he actually said something, it was something that everybody wanted to listen to.

So I think the combination of those two really showed me the importance of not just words as communication, but also your nonverbals in action. So it was a great combination.

[00:03:04] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, you indicated that there was a lot of talking in your family, but where did your more formal interest in communications come from? Where, when did that develop Jeanine?

[00:03:13] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So when I was in my undergraduate, I was very interested in public relations and external communications at the time. And then I had this opportunity to get a job in sales with general Mills. And that actually showed so much of the practical skills of communication where you think of not so much external communication or thinking about messaging in that way, but really interpersonal dynamics, influence, persuasion. And I feel like that sales experience was incredibly helpful to me. And then when I decided to go back and get my master’s, cause I was very interested in communication and training. I taught Dale Carnegie’s classes, and I loved those. And I could see such a big difference in giving someone just a few tips on how to be more effective in the way they presented and what a difference it could make in the way people framed themselves. So I went back to get my master’s and my PhD, and so much of my sales experience working with grocery managers. I so relate to what I’m trying to persuade students and my classroom to get engaged and interested in the topic. So I feel like it all fits together.

[00:04:17] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, what point along the line did you decide that a life in academia was the right life for you?

[00:04:24] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Wow. That was never something I really thought about. But I think what I love about being in academia is I’m very curious about communication. And I’ve been at Georgetown now for about a little bit over 25 years. And while I’m teaching similar kind of ideas and content, it changes so fast. The communication environment has changed so fast, that it allows me to be doing something new all the time. I’m very curious. And so I think what I love about the academic environment is it allows you to really be thoughtful about what’s going on and then to engage in the conversation about what that means.

[00:05:00] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, you teach in both the business school and the Communications, Culture, and Technology Programs. And I was just wondering, is there a lot of difference in students between those two programs and how you go about the curriculum?

[00:05:13] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Yeah I love that question. So the business school, everyone knows what an MBA is. And so those students come in with what are my key takeaways? How can I use this tomorrow? When I work with Executives in executive degree programs, they’re interested in, how can I apply the framework this week with the leaders I’m gonna be working with or the people that I’ll be engaging with? The Communication, Culture, and Technology Program is more of a traditional graduate school. And each student, it’s an interdisciplinary. So, some students are journalism. Some students come from think tank, some students come from government. So they come from very different perspectives, and they have more of a reflective, traditional academic approach initially to the content. So what’s great about it is I have to shift focus for both classes, but both classes benefit. I become more action and explicit in terms of what people can do in my CCT classes. And then I bring some of the theory that helps to explain why those takeaways work in the MBA classes. So it’s been great.

[00:06:13] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Now, it was interesting to see that you have early work in healthcare, both at the master’s level and PhD level. What brought you into healthcare? We’re gonna claim you as healthcare, of course.

[00:06:24] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Your right. Well, what I think I love about the healthcare context is it is a wonderful context for really understanding the complexity of communication. Because emotions tend to be high, uncertainty is high, there’s a lot of power dynamics in place, whether it’s between the healthcare provider and the patient, or even family communication.

And it’s around something that really matters around our health. And so it is a incredibly helpful context to understand why communication can be so complicated and challenging, and all the concepts that you can learn from that can really translate really well in situations that are not so intense.

[00:07:03] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Were you at all surprised with the telemedicine explosion during COVID?

[00:07:07] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So I have loved studying telemedicine. I did that at the very beginning at Ohio State. And it was at the very beginning of telemedicine, what was primarily being used within certain environments, like very rural areas or in prison environments. And so, the potential was just so there. But the real challenge in the diffusion of it was not so much the technology, but it was this acceptance, and also this idea that telemedicine solves the patient’s problem, not the doctors. The doctor always was gonna have a patient, either in their office, over telemedicine. The telemedicine solved it, that the patient didn’t have to travel to the doctor. And with COVID, telemedicine solved the doctor’s problem too, because they wouldn’t be able to have a patient. So once the doctor’s problem was solved within the context of the healthcare system, telemedicine really took off.

[00:07:59] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Now you’ve been writing for most of your professional career. And I always have to ask our authors, do you enjoy writing, Jeanine?

[00:08:08] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So, this is what I love about writing. When I get my voice in my head and can picture my audience and think about my students, then it’s easy for me to get the ideas out, when I think of it as solving a problem. But to be honest, this book that I wrote, Being Present, I was more nervous about this book than any other writing that I’ve done, because I think of the academic writing, and I know this is a crazy thing to think about it, but I think people probably aren’t reading it. They’re probably just skimming it, maybe read at the end, maybe read the abstract. So I don’t have the same sense that I really have to be thoughtful about the word choice, cause I really. I mean, I know my family doesn’t read it. I know. My students I hope; I assign it, but I don’t know if they read it. But with this book, I really wanted it to be a book that could help every single person think differently about the way they communicate within the context of these digital devices. So to be honest, I was most nervous and most anxious and overwhelmed in writing a book that I wanted everyone to read, as opposed to academic writing that I don’t know many people read.

[00:09:11] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, I read it. I thought it was terrific. And I’ll certainly advise all of our audience here to pick it up and read it, because it’s a good one. And it’s practical. And it’s easy to read. You have a very nice engaging and, I would say, fairly direct style, Jeanine. So you get right to the point, and that makes it easier to spend time. But the book is Being Present: Commanding Attention At Work and At Home by Managing Your Social Presence. So how would you define social presence for us, Jeanine?

[00:09:43] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Okay. The reason why I think that’s a really important topic to think about, social presence, when we say presence, we often think of mindfulness, like how present I am in a specific moment. And there’s been a lot of research and attention with mindfulness and yoga and being present in the moment. Social presence is your feeling of presence in engagement with someone else. That could be like this conversation, how socially present you and I feel together. It could be how socially present I feel to someone over text. It could be a LinkedIn post, how connected I feel with that person. So what I want people to start thinking about is social presence as it connects to how do I feel connected with this audience at this time? And prior to COVID, when I would say social presence, it was like, what is that? But with all the discussion around social distancing, it’s been easier for people to think about what does social presence mean? And it’s this connection with another person.

[00:10:38] Dr. Gary Bisbee: You lay out several major influences on social presence. Can you review those for us, Jeanine?

[00:10:45] Dr. Jeanine Turner: I think the reason why I’ve been really interested in social presence over time has been that it’s changed so dramatically as we’ve had access to different technologies. So we used to think of social presence as much face to face, how you felt in a face to face environment. There’s a little research about the phone, but as we started to have access to email or different types of technology, fax machine, and then text messaging, instant messaging, and now we have so many devices and opportunities for presence. It has evolved. So it’s given us an opportunity to really be thoughtful. And the challenge is it’s happened so fast, these changes. When you think about, the iPhone really didn’t start, wasn’t really invented and diffused till around 2007, which is a really short amount of time for us to go from primary face to face conversation being how we establish social presence to now being able to establish it in so many different venue. So I think it’s really why it’s so important to think about social presence right now.

[00:11:41] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Theme running through the book is battling for attention, which is in both an interesting concept, and one, frankly, I hadn’t thought that much about. But I can see now from reading the book how important it is. But what are your thoughts about battling for attention, Jeanine?

[00:11:57] Dr. Jeanine Turner: The way I think about it is as a communicator, I always have to be concerned with my audience, what my audience is thinking about, what they care about since the time of Aristotle, logos, pathos, ethos. You know, we have to think about our audience. What I think has been really made very obvious with digital technologies is your audience is mostly thinking about what matters to them. And now, because I can look out at an audience, and I see not only are they looking at their phone, they’re not paying attention to me, now I just have a visible representation that nobody was that into me all this time. So what I think is really important for us to think about is that every single time I’m connecting with an audience, I am competing for the attention of that audience. And I’m competing, not only with distraction that other people might have going on in their head, which I’ve always had to do that, I’m also competing with all these other messages that are coming in on a digital device on a moment by moment basis. And people say that we touch our phones up to 2,500 times a day. So it suggests that we are constantly thinking about that. In addition to being like we are in a call and all of a sudden you’re gonna get text and you’re gonna look down and see who the text is from, in addition to that, because we have this device, when I’m talking to you and you’re starting to get bored or not engaged, or you’re thinking, oh, I don’t know if this even matters, you quickly will look to your device as a way to find something. So when I talk with students, when I talk with executives, I say that you constantly have to think of what am I saying that’s relevant to my audience. And if I’m gonna persuade or influence, I have to be thinking about relevance at all time, because your audience will find something relevant to pay attention to if it’s not you.

[00:13:36] Dr. Gary Bisbee: You also talk about richness levels of technology in the book. Can you describe that for us?

[00:13:42] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Sure. So what’s really interesting is this concept of richness was created by these researchers, Daft and Lengel, and they initially had done this because executives were thinking, well, when should I send an email? When should I do a phone call? When should I be face to face when we had very few channels to deal with? I think it goes back in the eighties when they came out with this idea. But you can see this richness concept is really helpful. So richness is defined by the number of cues available to you. So in face to face, I have a very rich environment. I have your nonverbals. I have your tone. I have how personal you can be. You can call me by my name. I have the interactivity; I’m starting to talk and you might have a funny look on your face like you’re not even sure what you understand, so I can watch and I can then revise what I’m saying cause I see that you don’t understand what I’m saying. So that’s the richest possible cues is face to face. And then as you take those cues away, you have less and less cues to engage with. Now that’s looking at just cues from a channel perspective. We also know that it’s not just about the channel. It’s also about the relationship. I can get a text, an emoticon, say from you. And if we have a really close relationship, I might feel more connected to you from that than I do from a long conversation with someone I don’t know very well. So it’s a very complex issue, but it helps us to start to say it is the richness of that context contributes to how connected I feel to you in a conversation.

[00:15:03] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Let’s build on that to this term of multi-communication, which we all think we’re good at that. But there’s some suggestion that we really can’t multi-communicate. How do you think about that?

[00:15:15] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Okay. I absolutely think we can’t. So this is the way I think of it. When I’m talking, my mind works four to five times faster than you can ever speak. When I’m talking, your mind works four to five times faster than I can speak. It’s why I’m a fast talker. Cause it bugs me that you’re thinking about something else right now. So even though we are both speaking English, you don’t have to worry about translating. You have this extra time in your mind. And with that extra time, you think you can go do something else. So what’s happening when I’m multi-communicating. You’re talking with me while I’m talking, and you’re supposedly listening. You’re going to either look at another message, starting another message, because you’re in your mind thinking, I know what she’s thinking. So multi-communicating is a version of multitasking. Now all the research on multitasking actually says we can’t do that either. Where you have just a simple task where you’re maybe taking very routine task and another routine task at the same time, only about 3% of the world is what we call super-taskers. So we can’t multitask which is very basic tasks. Imagine how challenging multi-communication is, where I’m trying to manage my relationship with you while I’m also managing a relationship with someone else. However, we do it all the time. And what I think is important for us to recognize, the worst thing for a researcher to say is just don’t do it, and that’s wrong, we don’t do it. We have to do it. We’re doing it all the time. We’re accommodating that into our everyday life. So how can we figure out a strategic and intentional way to approach this?

[00:16:52] Dr. Gary Bisbee: You talked in the in the book about the importance of the smartphone in this whole multi-communication realm. Can you dig into that a bit for us, Jeanine?

[00:17:01] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So what the additional device like a smartphone, allows you to do is have this constant state of connection. And you can’t really control it in that you can turn it off, but even if you just have a smart watch, you’re constantly being pulled away from whatever conversation you’re in by some type of a reminder or text. And the research says that even if you don’t look at it, but maybe you just glance and you don’t respond. If I’m in a conversation with you, and I notice you look at your phone, I am not going to reveal as much to you in that conversation. If I’m in a conversation with you or both at dinner and your phone is laid down, versus laid up where I can see the messages coming from, research says that if your phone is down, I’m gonna talk with you more than if your phone is up. So what we know is, let’s say that you can say, I can hear people out there saying, you don’t know Jeanine. I can multi-communicate. I am in meetings all day long. I treat him like a podcast while I’m also doing my text and email. Sure. You can do it. But the likelihood of you missing some important piece of information could be very high. So it’s not that you can’t actually exist doing those things. It’s just that if a message comes in that you really need to know at the same time another message is coming in, you actually can’t do that at the same time. So you might be missing out.

[00:18:21] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Well, is there a number here? I mean, can you possibly keep two or three messages or conversations going at the same time and at least get something out of them? Is there any thought about the number of conversations you could be having?

[00:18:35] Dr. Jeanine Turner: That’s a really great question. So right now we’re just talking about content, right? The task. We’re not talking about the relationship. So just from a task perspective, to the extent to which there are multiple routine tasks that don’t require a relationship dimension to them, potentially you can succeed in doing it. You might not do it to the best of your ability, but you can get it done. A lot of times people might have a web conference. You hear it all the time. Oh my camera’s not working. Sorry, but I promise I’m here. I have my camera on mute, my video on mute, my audio on mute. So you’re basically listening to a meeting at work much like a podcast while you’re also answering your emails and text. You’re able to get a lot of things done from a task perspective. However, if you’re trying to manage a relationship, if someone else sees you doing that, if someone thinks that you’re not paying attention to them, now you have to deal with the fact that communication is also about relationships. So to the extent to which someone knows that you are not seeing them as a priority, it’s gonna have an impact on the relationship you have with them. So yes, I can be in a soccer game, attend my child’s soccer game while I’m also on a call with work, and I can be watching the game and interact, not really interacting with my child cause they’re playing soccer, but while I’m on my call at the same time, but if my child looks up after they kick a goal and see that I’m actually not paying attention, I’m on my phone talking the whole time, it communicates something pretty clearly that I’m not really present at the game.

[00:20:06] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Yeah, I’m laughing only because I’ve been there many times.

[00:20:09] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Sure.

[00:20:11] Dr. Gary Bisbee: But that gets us into the interface between work and home. And the book is terrific because it covers both work and home. We don’t have time today to spend a lot of time on the home aspect of this. That’s probably another interview if you’ll agree to do it. But how do you think about the interface between work and home?

[00:20:31] Dr. Jeanine Turner: What’s been really great about this book coming out, for me at this time, is that I feel like the work and home line has been blurred as long as we’ve had this smartphone. When the smartphone became more and more diffused within society, immediately work and home was blurred. Then when COVID happened, it was almost like it’s a complete collision where people were working from home and dealing with these challenges at the same time. And I feel like we are never gonna get past that. And so when we talked about the book and organizing it, I do have these kind of com compartmentalization between this is what we have to think about with work and this is what to think about with home. But I think this is an ongoing battle that leaders have to think about all the time, especially as we’re going into these anytime, any work situations. So many organizations are saying, hey, anytime, any place for work, you just make the decision. But what happens is we forget that we actually can’t multi-communicate in the way that we think we can and we start piling up all ,these responsibilities in both sides. And then we are feeling stressed and exhausted because there’s no way you can do all of those at once.

[00:21:40] Dr. Gary Bisbee: How did COVID accelerate that interface?

[00:21:43] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Oh, absolutely. It completely accelerated it. And I think what’s challenging is cOVID happened, and we all of a sudden had work in home all in the same spot. So that was very much compartmentalized. But what happened was we didn’t have to worry about logistics, of getting a child from this place to this place. We didn’t have to worry about getting to recital. So while we did have a collision of work in home, there were no logistic expectations. Now, we’re coming out of COVID. We have more logistic expectations. But we’re also trying to deal with this anytime, anywhere. So this collision of work and home has become even more exacerbated by the logistic layer on top of this constant. So what we’re having is people saying, oh, I can go on vacation, because I can still take calls. But you’re actually not on vacation at all, because you’re taking calls the whole time. So I think what’s happening is we did have a physical demarcation between work and home. You drove into the garage. You closed your door. But now we don’t have that. So we have to be thoughtful and intentional and strategic about how do we create those, how do we negotiate those with the people that we work with, how do we negotiate those with our families.

[00:22:53] Dr. Gary Bisbee: So you outline a framework for managing social presence in the book. Can you describe that for us or describe how you would develop a framework for us, Jeanine?

[00:23:04] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So what I think is it’s ridiculous to say, just turn your phone off. That’s not an option. So I think we have to think about is what type of social presence, so we think about social presence, what type of social presence do I wanna be in on a moment by moment basis? So most of the time we are in what I refer to as budgeted presence. That’s where I’m multi-communicating. I’m engaging, and I’m paying part my attention to you, part to someone else for those people, listening to this podcast, many of you are probably in budgeted presence right now. You’re listening to the podcast while you’re also texting and emailing and taking care of work related situations. So it’s where you’re allocating part of your attention to some part to someone else. That can work if your whole job is to be efficient, and you’re trying to be as efficient as possible. It might not help you manage a relationship very well though, if a person expects attention, but you’re not giving it to them. So budgeted is what we’re in most of the time. Then we can also make a decision because now, we’re in budgeted presence. Now I’m interacting with you. I need to decide what should I do about the fact that you are also in budgeted presence? Right? So what can I do? I can be an entitled presence. That’s the second type. That’s basically where I tell you, put your phone away, put your technology away, or just focus on my conversation. I try to control it. Entitled can work in certain situations, but a lot of times doesn’t cause most of the time people are saying, who are you to take my technology away? Or we really saw that in the classroom environment, in our online classes during COVID, whereas you really could not control the attention of the other person. You couldn’t control, and for sure, I couldn’t tell you to turn your technology off. So some professors might say– or leaders, I’ve seen executives do this too– everyone has to be in this meeting with their camera on. That’s a form of entitled presence. I’m trying to force you to be present the way I want you to be present. So sometimes that can backfire on you, because people think, who are you to ask me that? And if you demand a specific type of presence and then you actually waste my time, I’m frustrated with you. If I say everyone has to be in person in this meeting in DC at two o’clock, and then everyone gets to the meeting, and I’m wasting their time, I’ve really hurt my own social capital and social credibility. So that’s entitled presence. It can work, but you need to be very relevant, and you need to make sure that your audience is gonna care about whatever it is you’re gonna talk about during that time. Okay. The third choice is competitive presence. So, here I am. I don’t wanna tell you what to do and force you to pay attention, but I need to recognize that you are completely distracted all the time. So competitive presence is where I really think about my audience as an investor. And my job is to try to figure out how I can get my audience to invest in me. And that’s really what I do so much with executives when I’m trying to help them with presentations. And there’s a whole chapter in the book on competitive presence. Where I try to give people some strategies on how to be concise, how to get to the point, how to make sure your message is relevant to your audience so that you can compete with the other messages that they’re dealing with. Then the fourth type is invitational. The reason why I talk about invitational presence, I’m treating my audience as a partner. I’m trying to be in dialogue with my audience. The reason that part, that type of presence is so important is the more we are in budgeted presence, the less we are in invitational. So when I’m on my technology and trying to manage five or six conversations at once, it’s very hard for me to sustain a dialogue with you. So I have to think about how can I create a context where you will wanna have a conversation with me, and I’m gonna learn something from you, and we’re gonna learn together. So we have to set up a framework for that. Same within the organization situation where I wanna do a brainstorming. I need to make sure that the people in my organization know that I’m expecting a brainstorming meeting. I would like us all to come with ideas. I want us to be focused just on this meeting and not on others, and I need their input on what’s the best way to develop that. Then just saying, okay, everybody turn off your phones is time to brainstorm that doesn’t give people the planning and effort and intentionality that they probably need.

[00:27:24] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Is it fair to say then from a standpoint of a leader, you’re best to focus on competition and invitational that those are the two that will put you in the best shape as a leader?

[00:27:36] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Absolutely. Recognize you cannot be in budgeted all the time. It’s very few times that you can tell people what to do with their technology because of all the different expectations people have that are drawing them away from your message. So really you have to think of two things. When I’m trying to persuade someone, they are faced with many multiple messages that are pulling me away. What can I do to influence this audience? How can I make sure my message is relevant. So that’s what leaders need to be thinking about. And then, when I’m not just trying to be influential and persuasive, but I’m really trying to create a dialogue, how can I create a situation and foster an environment where people feel comfortable sharing information and sharing that with me. And I wanna be clear that these four types of presence are not just in face to face. You could have these over zoom. You could have this over at a text. You could have this in a phone call. So the type of presence is not dependent on the channel. It’s dependent on what you’re trying to foster in the type of conversation you’re trying to have.

[00:28:36] Dr. Gary Bisbee: You have a very nice section of the book, talking about implementing strategies for social presence. Can you just review how you think about that, Jeanine?

[00:28:46] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Absolutely. When thinking about implementing the strategies, you’re thinking about who is in each and every situation. Who’s my audience? What is my context, like, where am I? And what’s my message? And if you think about those things, it really helps you to decide where should I be. For who’s my audience, if I’m talking to someone that really matters, or it has high status, or I wanna make sure that they know I really care about this message, then it necessarily means you’re not gonna be in budgeted. Right? If I’m talking about something that’s very simple and routine, I probably could do that in budgeted presence. If it’s complex or sensitive, probably not. In terms of the message, if it’s a message that’s very salient or important to me, or maybe very important to the audience, I need to think about that. Thinking about who am I and who am I talking to, like who are the people involved, what is the message I’m trying to relate, and then what is the context, those three kind of variables will help you to decide what’s the right type of presence to engage in. And again to remember, it’s not just your decision because communication requires you and this audience. So even though, for example, sometimes you might be in a situation where you have an employee who comes in your office and complains all the time about some issue. And every single time they come in, they’re complaining about the same thing. And when they start on this rant, You and your mind are thinking, I know where this is going. I actually could get a few texts out, cause this is gonna take about 10 minutes. But you’re what you’re gonna be communicating to that person is that you don’t care. So even though you can text probably and get a bunch of things done on your email while this person’s ranting to you, it might not be the right thing from a relationship standpoint because of what it kept might communicate. And even though this seems very obvious, the norms are changing so fast about what’s appropriate and what’s not, because people are changing so fast in the way they approach communication. For example, one person I interviewed said that they would never-ever promote this one person that worked for them. This was an executive. He said there was a person that worked for him that was always on his phone. Every time this guy was in his office, he’s on his phone, checking his phone. And the executive said, it really drives me crazy. And I said, well, did you tell the person it bothers you? And he said, no, because I don’t wanna seem like that kind of a person, because no one often wants to say anything. But I’ll tell you, I will never promote him. That’s what he told me. I had another interview with someone, not the same situation, but it could be similar where this person that works for an executive said, I check my phone all the time. Even if I’m in a meeting with my manager, I’m always checking my phone because I want that manager to know that I am super busy and super productive and super responsive. And they’ll look at me and see how much I’m on my phone. And they’ll say, wow, that person’s really working hard here for this organization. So what is amazing is here’s two people that could actually be talking about each other and have complete misunderstanding, because the way we use communication technologies is not the same. So what does that mean? We have to be concrete and explicit about what our expectations are and what we need.

[00:31:59] Dr. Gary Bisbee: What are your options if there’s just obviously a mismatch between you and your audience?

[00:32:04] Dr. Jeanine Turner: So that’s why I have some kind of scripts and kind of ideas to think about in the book, cause I think people are afraid to say, please put your phone away. But I think a lot of times people do not even realize how much they’re on their phone. So I think saying something like, this conversation really matters and your input really matters; I’d really appreciate if you could concentrate on this for just the next few minutes and if this is not the right time to have this conversation, no problem we can reschedule. You’re reinforcing, this message matters to me and you, my audience, our relationship matters, and because of that, that’s why I want our 100% focus. And I think because so often we are in budgeted presence in a mindless way, we actually have no idea how much time we’re spending in budgeted presence, that having some explicit conversations about how you wanna be present is important. Having a meeting and say, okay, everybody put your phones away and focus on this PowerPoint. That just makes people mad. But if you say, okay, we’re having a meeting coming up, I’m gonna expect this kind of attention and this kind of conversation. I would like us to be completely focused in this meeting, so we can make the most efficient use of our time in that meeting. If this is not the right time for this meeting, let me know. But this is the expectations I have. So I think it’s about being clear about expectations around social presence, so that everyone’s kind of on the same page.

[00:33:31] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Can we practice to become more intentional about how we manage social presence?

[00:33:37] Dr. Jeanine Turner: I think we should be practicing. And I think we should think about it on a daily basis. I think we need to be intentional about as I’m going into a meeting, what kind of social presence do I need to have when I’m walking into the door at night at home? What’s the social presence I wanna have with my family. What do I wanna do? And to recognize that you have to construct it yourself. So if you walk in a meeting and everyone’s on their phones and you’re frustrated people on their phones, but you don’t say anything, you’re really not contributing to constructing that environment or you walk into you’re in a one-on-one conversation. The person continuously looks at their device. It’s important to be willing to say, this is why this is important, and this is why it matters to me. And we are not used to doing that. So we have to put it to the front of our mind to practice and talk about what does presence mean in every situation.

[00:34:34] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Jeanine. I think this is a good place to land. This has been a terrific interview. Being Present is just a great book. Very practical. I urge everyone to buy it. I’ve got one last question, if I could, more of a general question drawing on your wealth of experience. And that is, we do have in the audience some up and coming leaders earlier stage leaders. What advice do you have for earlier stage leaders, Jeanine?

[00:35:01] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Oh, I’m so excited you ask that, because when I think about people that are just graduating from college and thinking about their next step, this topic is critical to your success. Because what I’ve really noticed is that COVID created some habits that many people put up with or thought were okay, because it was the way just to manage through a very challenging situation on the part of organizations, schools, family, life. And I think what’s really important is to recognize is I have to create and engage the social presence I want as I go into this organization. And it means I have to figure out who are my key stakeholders in this company: who do I work for, who are my key peers, who are the people I interact with, and what type of social presence should I engage with them? And this might mean having a conversation: how do you want me to be present with you, what are your expectations around meetings and be observant, what are other people doing in a meeting, how are they engaging? Because this is a brand new world for everyone. No one really has it completely figured out, but being observant, being curious and taking the time to have the conversation is what’s gonna help you to stay ahead of that situation.

[00:36:16] Dr. Gary Bisbee: Super. Jeanine, thank you very much for joining us today. It was a terrific interview.

[00:36:22] Dr. Jeanine Turner: Well, I really appreciate this. This has been a wonderful opportunity to talk, and thank you so much for your opportunity to be present with this audience.

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